How To Shoot High Key Photography

By | 14/10/2022

As a dominion, high key photography stands out with bright and light-toned colors. In some cases, it may contain overexposed areas on purpose. Even though the concept is pretty like shooting fish in a barrel to understand, it might be a bit challenging information technology implement it. You demand to choose the key light which delivers the master illumination and add together ane more reflector to fill up in about shadows.

High key photography differs from depression fundamental photography since it has the reverse purpose. High key lighting works cracking for nuptials photography, portrait photography as well as product photography.

If you lot don’t desire to set the lighting on your own, utilise services provided by professional retouchers to get fast results.

1. Gear up the Digital Photographic camera

camera for high key photography

If you want to shoot high central lighting photography, y’all need to become a basic DSLR camera or mirrorless camera. I recommend spending a bit more on a versatile entry-level camera so that you lot tin use information technology longer with diverse lighting conditions.

Check out these iii entry-level DSLRs:

Nikon D3400 has the latest AF-S system, resulting in high-quality focusing and great pictures.

Canon SL2 works dandy for taking portraits. This model is suitable for both novice and professional person photographers.

Pentax K3 allows you to take authentic and detailed photos with smooth transitions.

2. Make Baseline Photographic camera Settings

high key photography comparison

Subsequently choosing the correct camera, you lot demand to pay attention to its settings to accept a peachy high key photo. Hither are the main settings you should accept into account while shooting high key pics:

Exposure: You lot demand to adjust the shutter speed to overexpose the picture. Use transmission exposure way to set an aperture/shutter speed to +ii or -ii stops away from 0. Alternatively, you tin try spot metering to take an exposure reading from a mid-tone in the picture.

Aperture: To take high primal pictures, you need a fast and wide-opened discontinuity. Prepare the aperture to f/five.6 which is a mid-value (not too high or also low). You will become the picture every bit if you’ve shot information technology with f/3. However, due to close-up, the DOF looks pretty shallow fifty-fifty when F is higher up 5.0. Thus, you are letting in more light without compromising a prissy blurry background.

ISO: You should set up the ISO to the everyman bachelor value. Every bit a dominion, it’s around 100.

Exposure compensation: In case yous are using aperture priority, you lot demand to cheque out if you use exposure compensation. If so, y’all tin can amp upwards the exposure two to iii stops.

An overexposed look works specially not bad for portraits. To create proficient shots, you need to have a few test shots with different discontinuity values to choose the desired exposure.

In case f/five.half dozen doesn’t work, you can attempt f/6.iii or f/7.1. In this case, pare details might be less visible. To go the desired result, experiment with the aperture value.

iii. Invest in a Stiff Flash and Strobes Lights

flash and strobes lights for high key photography

If you are planning to work in a studio or practice high central photography, consider buying practiced standalone studio strobes lights or wink units which are crucial for these cases.

You need to brand certain yous have enough lite for creating a good high fundamental portrait or product shot. Investing in a powerful set of strobes guarantees decent light which you tin use as a main source paired with an additional ane.

The first affair you should pay attention to is the power value. As a rule, strobes include ability (in watt-seconds) in the model proper noun such equally the Godox MS300, which supports 300 watts.

The ability blazon is another aspect you lot should check out. You might cull betwixt mains or battery power. While strobes with mains ability are less expensive and more suitable for studio shootings, battery-powered models go for a higher cost.

Cheque out our 3 strobe light picks:

Neewer Vision 4 Outdoor.

Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS.


4. Softbox as Inexpensive Lighting Power

If y’all are on a budget, you lot can buy a softbox which is a cheaper analog of a strobe light. Besides, yous tin can employ a softbox as an extra lighting source. However, the softbox gives you less lighting, which might result in some shadows.

5. Experiment with Electric Lights Offers the Well-nigh Control

using electric lights in high key photography

With continuous electric lights, you lot can get maximum control over the lighting while taking photos. However, using this method, yous should shoot either in a studio or have admission to a power source.

The all-time choice is to choose lights with output control. After setting the central lighting, you can adjust your secondary calorie-free to fill in nearly shadows.

To achieve such an effect, you should put the light at an approximate angle of 45° to the primal light. Besides, you demand to accommodate the intensity of the secondary light to make it softer compared to the primary source.

lights in high key photography

If one secondary light cannot fill in all the shadows, you should use an boosted one or a reflector. Check out your lights and the direction of the shadow to find out which source causes most of the shadows. And so, put another low-cal opposite this shadow. Proceed in mind, y’all need to adjust the light to fill in the shadow without overpowering other lights.

vi. Shoot Outside on a Cloudy Twenty-four hours

outside shooting in high key photography

Cloudy weather condition is perfect for high key lighting photography, since an overcast sky will exist brighter than your object, which allows you to take photos without flash.

The best way to take such pictures is to choose the area with an uncluttered horizon to avoid trees blocking the skyline. You can take portraits with hills or fields in the background.

If finding such a location isn’t an easy chore, you need to change the bending to make the groundwork as uncluttered as possible.

In case the field of study takes much of the frame, you should utilise spot metering or center-weighted metering mode to let your device meter off the subject automatically.

If the subject is besides small in the frame, spot metering fashion also comes in handy. Nonetheless, y’all should make sure the heart autofocus point is over your field of study.

7. Take Photos Outdoors on a Sunny Day

outdoors shooting in high key photography

Taking a high key photo in sunny conditions is pretty like to shooting on a cloudy mean solar day.

You need to:

  1. Choose the area with an uncluttered groundwork to get nigh of the sky.
  2. Arrange the angle and so that the lord’s day is behind the bailiwick (or close to information technology).

In the same manner every bit described above, you tin can capture more heaven if the identify lacks an uncluttered surface area. Simply change the camera angle and go down low.

high key photography in sunny days

After everything is done, you lot need to meter off the main subject with your heart-weighted or spot metering mode.

8. Use Flash for High Key Await Indoors

lighting setup for high key photo

You should set camera exposure get-go. It’s better to use an aperture of f/8 and an ISO of 100.

When choosing the shutter speed, you lot need to take into business relationship the wink sync speed which is usually effectually 1/160s or 1/200s. Then, y’all need to place the external lite.

Fifty-fifty though you lot tin accept a loftier key photo with one flash, it’s amend to apply two to go the desired shot faster.

To gear up 2 flashes for the shooting, check out the tips below.

the first lighting setup, yous need to use a wink modifier to fill up the background of the shot. You lot can use a large diffuser or a softbox.

If you desire to create a backlight, you need to position one wink with the modifier behind the subject area. You should adapt power to about 1/8 which y’all can later change.

Depending on your needs, you lot should place the second flash in front. You lot can showtime with a 45-degree angle and conform it subsequently if necessary. Next, you demand to set it to 1/xvi power.

You should also consider using an umbrella or a large softbox to soften the flash.

If you lot don’t have large modifiers to make full the background, you should consider
the second lighting setup.

To set the foreground flash, y’all should follow the steps described above. However, instead of placing the other wink behind the field of study, yous should put a whiteboard in the background.

Since the board has to cover the whole background, its size is pretty big. However, poster boards are cheap enough. Alternatively, if your studio has white walls, y’all can utilize them as a background instead.

And then, place the background flash at a 45-degree angle from the white background. Don’t forget to bespeak the flash directly to the white background.

Depending on the called groundwork, you might need a flash diffuser.

The last pace is to suit the background wink to 1/8 ability and accept a couple of test images.

9. Experiment with Window Light Correctly

window light in high key photography

If you are interested in loftier key photography, you can employ the window calorie-free and a photography reflector or make full-wink. Most portrait and wedding photographers usually use this tip to create loftier key pics almost without lighting equipment. You should overexpose the background and light the discipline with fill up lighting.

However, you need to choose the day when the sun lights the space behind the subject. Besides, you need to identify one source of light in front, opposite the groundwork lighting.

near the window in high key photography

The all-time way to create a good high central moving picture is to place the subject near the window, overexpose the lite and fill the subject with a speedlight.

10. Don’t Forget Spread the Lite

spread the light in high key photography

The more you spread the light, the amend loftier key pictures y’all’ll get. You lot need to encompass equally much of the bailiwick equally possible. To achieve this effect, yous should utilize big light sources, since pocket-size sources deliver harsher light and shadows. The big low-cal source will help you spread the light and make shadows softer.

In example you take a modest lite source, similar flash, you should use a diffuser additionally.

example of spreading the light in high key photography

Past using a softbox or photographic umbrella, you lot’ll get impressive shots. It allows y’all to spread light over the subject.

If you lot want to reduce the corporeality of light hitting the subject, yous should add together diffusion filters to make your lighting more powerful.

11. Balancing the Background Calorie-free

balancing the background light in high key photography

To get loftier-quality pictures, you demand to remainder the background light to avoid getting a dark and dim background.

I of the solutions involves choosing a white or light-colored background. Alternatively, you tin apply more light on a darker background.

example of balancing the background light in high key photography

To take a photo similar to the instance above, make the background overexposed. The lite from the right should exist less strong than the light from the left.

Both extra sources should be less bright than the groundwork light. Choose a big light source with balanced and diffused light to get rid of harsh shadows.

12. Manage Your Tone Range

tone range in high key photography

To get the correct tones while taking a loftier key photo, endeavor draping the subject in a light-colored sheet. Besides, you can put the low-cal-colored canvas under the subject. I recommend using a muslin cloth for a light background to reduce the nighttime tones behind the subject.

13. Don’t Be Afraid to Brand Adjustments as Yous Go

adjustments in high key photography

Later setting lighting, adapt your camera settings and have a couple of examination pictures. In instance y’all don’t similar the result, try to rearrange your light sources. Don’t exist afraid to make adjustments during the shooting process.

I as well recommend setting up light in advance. Select the best lite setup that you will use for regular photoshoots. And so, you can set lighting for other types of photography, including portraits. Don’t forget to save all the settings to use them in the future. When you find the correct camera settings and lighting, the whole shooting process will exist faster and easier.

14. Eliminate Shadows During Mail-Product

post-production in high key photography

Practicing high key photography is not an like shooting fish in a barrel task, peculiarly if you lack light. To reduce unwanted shadows after the shooting, you may need to procedure your photos. Y’all can utilise various photo editing software to edit the background.

When processing your images, y’all tin can change the background equally well as better the brightness and exposure to get a brighter photo. I don’t recommend working on dissimilarity since it might result in excessive tones or muted subjects.

example of post-production in high key photography

The main aim is to keep the focus of the image and eliminate dark tones without creating a faded upshot. If y’all don’t desire to edit your photos by yourself, you can order services from professional retouchers.

xv. Try to Utilize Aligning Brush Tool for White Groundwork

The Adjustment Brush tool helps you go a fully white background and get rid of unwanted elements. I used the following settings to carefully “white-out” the background with the brush: the exposure was prepare to upwardly to +four, besides, I used Automask.

16. Create Strong High Key Portraits Inspired past Platon’s

example of antoniou platon high key photography

Antoniou Platon is a well-known British photographer. His most famous works include highly contrasted black and white portraits of celebrities and politicians.

What makes his portraits stand out is that he uses a tight frame effectually the model, the high contrast, the shadows on the model’s cheeks, and the white background.

This approach works especially great for models with interesting faces. Since such a portrait is simple and clear, viewers tin can focus on the subject field.

The manner is suitable for male person models. However, since there is no strict dominion, y’all can try it with female models. Besides, you lot can try different approaches and techniques to shoot them differently.

antoniou platon high key photography

You don’t need a lot of equipment to recreate Platon’s pictures. Make sure to use several flashguns. If you are going to process pictures subsequently, yous can employ one flash.

Platon shoots with the medium format film camera with a 135mm lens which creates a like outcome to the 75mm lens on a full-frame camera.

Since the background is white and the photographer uses bright tones, this is a perfect example of a high key photo.

Yous can encounter how he positioned the lights past analyzing the shadows on the face of the model and the catchlights in his eyes.

17. Shoot Animals Laying in the Shade

animals in high key photography

Those who similar high key lighting photography tin can besides shoot animals in the shade. Due to soft uniform light falling on the animal with the harsh light on plants behind, you can create a done-out result acquired by overexposing. Since the bailiwick is in the shade, you lot can focus on each detail.

example of animals in high key photography

This picture of the lion looks keen due to the right lighting and shadows. When you lot starting time with high key pictures, opt for darker subjects or the ones that include dark details, since they volition become more noticeable after overexposing.

18. Try to Shoot Plants

plants in high key photography

If you’re a novice, endeavour shooting subjects that look great in a loftier primal. Every bit a rule, various plants, including leaves, flowers, or roots are perfect for this genre.

First, you need to decide on the plant that you want to capture. You tin choose a blossom, seed-head, or leaf details. To have photos of them, place the macro lens closer to the foreground.

example plants in high key photography

Use 100mm macro and 300mm f2.eight lenses when shooting plants and flowers. If you aim at a wide-angle, use a 16mm to 35mm lens.

To switch between mural and portrait format without changing the position of the camera, you can utilize a rotating lens.

19. Work with Landscape

landscape in high key photography

If you’ve experimented with long exposure landscape and used a neutral density filter, you’re fully packed for creating dandy high fundamental lighting photography and can accept dandy pictures of h2o. To create the snow-similar issue, you need to use a long exposure of more 20 seconds.

Working with landscape photography, you demand to make more endeavour for creating a high central photo. You volition need a faster lens compared to your basic 1, similar the Nikon AF-South 105mm f/ane.4E ED or Canon EF 85mm f1.2L Two USM. Besides, you need to pay attending to weather atmospheric condition.

example of landscape in high key photography

I recommend using a Prime number Lens with the maximum aperture of f/i.eight which works neat for loftier key images since it lets more than lite into the frame. Since these lenses are faster than standard ones, they allow you to create an overexposed effect.

Choose a bright day when the lord’s day is high in the sky to reduce virtually shadows. With the correct atmospheric condition, you can use faster lenses and suit your settings to go a good photo.

Freebies for High Key Photography

freebies for high key photography

Afterwards taking photos, you can apply these portrait actions with filters to retouch your pictures. This collection helps comprehend the entire spectrum of headshot and photographers’ needs. The actions allow you to whiten the eyes or heighten the overall contrast of an image.